Learning styles and academic outcome: The validity and utility of Vermunt's Inventory of Learning Styles in a British higher education setting

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Background: Vermunt's (1994) Inventory of Learning Styles (ILS) integrates four components of learning: processing strategies, regulation strategies, mental models of learning and learning orientations. Using explanatory factor analysis, Vermunt (1998) identified four different learning styles, meaning-directed, reproduction-directed, application-directed and undirected, which displayed characteristic patterns of factor loadings across the four components of learning.

Aims: The aims of the current study were to test the generalisability of Vermunt's integrated model of learning with a sample of students from a British university and to establish whether different learning styles were associated with different academic outcomes.

Sample: A total of 273 students from a British university took part.

Methods: Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test Vermunt's four-factor model of learning styles and compare it with alternative models. Interrelationships between components of the ILS were examined in more detail using regression analyses. The relationship between learning style and academic outcome was also examined.

Results: Fit indices indicated that Vermunt's four-factor model of learning styles provided the best fit for the current sample. Path estimates associated with meaning-directed and reproduction-directed learning styles loaded across components as described by Vermunt but application-directed and undirected learning styles loaded mainly on conceptions and orientations components. Undirected learning style had a low negative association with academic performance, while the meaning-directed learning style had a low positive association with academic performance.

Conclusions: Although the ILS did identify Vermunt's four learning styles, different learning environments influence the precise characteristics of each learning style.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-290
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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